Thursday, May 02, 2013

Blog Every Day in May -- Day Two

Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

In January 1963, the Mona Lisa left the Louvre for the first time since 1913 and came to the United States. The exhibit was masterminded by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who wanted to make the world's most famous painting accessible to Americans who couldn't afford the trip to Paris. Politically sensitive because the United States wasn't on the best terms with France and De Gaulle, and physically risky since the fragile painting had been the target of theft and vandalism in the past, the determined Mrs. Kennedy got the Mona Lisa here by tirelessly lobbying French Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux (shown beside her above), convincing him that she and the President would be personally responsible for its safety. Since at the time it was valued at $100 million ($720 million in today's dollars), this was no small pledge on her part.

Then the First Lady enlisted the services of National Gallery director John Walker to make sure that La Joconde could safely be viewed by as many citizens as possible in DC at the National Gallery and then in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Painted in the early 1500s on a panel of poplar, the Mona Lisa was vulnerable to warping and cracking. She came over by ship, encased in a crate sealed inside of another, reinforced steel crate to ensure she would experience no change in humidity during her voyage. At the museums she was displayed behind bulletproof glass. Special closed-circuit cameras were installed (an innovation in 1963) and HVAC was monitored around the clock to make sure the air was cleaned of dust and impurities and temperature stayed between 62º and 65º.

By the time Mona sailed back to France in February, she had been seen by more than a million Americans. It was such a success that in the 1970s, she went to Moscow and Tokyo. Since then, she has stayed home in the Louvre.

I don't know how this fascinating bit of history escaped me until last year, but somehow it did. I love this story because it shows that in our not-so-distant history, we were proud of being interested in art and beauty and the culture of foreign lands … even if we happen to be in political disagreement with the heads of state of those foreign lands.

Thursday Thirteen #219

Thirteen Things I'd Do 
If I Won 
the Illinois State Lottery
The smallest Lotto jackpot is $2,000,000. That's the basis of this fantasy. (I don't want to be too greedy.)

1) The State gives me two options: a one-time, after-tax payout of $821,562 or 25 annual payments of $53,846 (also after taxes). I'd choose the annual payments. Then I wouldn't have to worry about retirement. 

2) I'd ask the agency where I currently work if I could come in on a part-time, 30 hour/week basis. That way I could keep my group medical insurance. It's very good coverage and I find I use it more/appreciate it more as I get older.

3) I wouldn't worry so much. If I get laid off, so be it. After all, I have $1,000/week coming, in no matter what!

4) I'd pay down my credit cards.

5) I'd go to more Cub games.

6) I'd give my friend in the Keys $2,000 immediately. He's so broke that, even after winning the Lottery, I couldn't fish him out. But I could help him get a fresh start -- $2,000 is what he says he needs to get a good bankruptcy attorney/financial advisor. I'd try to help him refinance that obscene mortgage of his, too. He's such a good man. I'd so love to be able to help him.

7) My nephew would get to go on his class trip to Washington DC next year. He wants to go badly but he always says he knows it costs too much for his family budget. I think it's $500. 

8) I'd pay for my niece's books at college next year. I can't do for her brother and not for her. Besides, she works very hard -- both at school and preparing food at a local restaurant. She deserves a break!

9) I'd subscribe to the local PBS station. Last year I only sent them $20. I feel so guilty during the pledge drives because I watch Downtown Abbey and Chicago Tonight without contributing my fair share.

10) I'd get lash extensions! I'd love to have long, luxurious lashes.

11) I'd finally renovate my kitchen and bathroom, and I'd give the rest of this place a nice, fresh coat of paint.


13) And the cats and I would stay in a nice, air conditioned motel while all the work is being done.

The next drawing is Saturday. Wish me luck!   

For more about the Thursday 13, 
or to play along yourself, click here.

Blog Every Day in May -- Day One

Day 1, Wednesday
: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph... no one will be counting your words... probably)

Let’s begin my life story with my very beginning. I couldn’t have been more of an accident. My mother had recently given birth to my older sister and insisted my dad “stop at the drugstore” before bedtime. She assumed those two factors would preclude a second pregnancy but HEL-LO! Here I am!

Then there’s the hospital where I arrived. In 1967 (almost 10 years after my birth), it was converted to a mental institution. My family always teased me that it was fitting that I began life in the funny farm.

Then there was the time of my birth. I was born at the stroke of midnight between November 21 and 22. Legally, that’s not acceptable because midnight doesn’t belong to either day. When my mother “came to” (in those long ago days, women were doped up for labor), she was asked what day she wanted on my birth certificate. They had to ask her several times until she understood. She chose November 22 because it was her parents’ anniversary, so I was a “gift” to them. I always found that ironic, since my relationship with those two was always fractious and tortured. (I got lucky, though, with my other grandparents. They were wonderful and I adored them.)

By being born at midnight, I’m on the very cusp of the astrological cusp. So who am I? Scorpio is resilient, intense/dramatic, and wise; Sagittarius is expressive, optimistic and honest. Maybe, by the end of the month, you’ll tell me which best describes me.

It's May! It's May!

I'm joining Kwizgiver and Boss Nurse Speaks in a May Challenge hosted by Jenni at Story of My Life.

Here are the rules:

1. There really aren't any rules. If you miss a day, you can make it up or skip it. The blog police will not come knocking.

2. I will be including a linkup option at the bottom of my post each day, so you are welcome to leave your links here for others to peruse, as well.

3. You can still post other things every day, too. I plan to do normal outfit posts, life posts, around-Austin posts, and sponsor posts just like usual.

4. I'd seriously love you if you also include the "blog every day in May" button (below) either on your sidebar or at the end of your posts, but again, the blog police will not come knocking. My main goal here is to get us all back to the basics of blogging, not to gain a million new readers (though I wouldn't mind that).

5. Here are the topics. You can be as creative and awesome or as boring and bland as you like with these. Take 'em and run with it. Use creative post titles. Interpret each "prompt" however you like. There's no wrong way to do it. Have fun.

Day 1, Wednesday
: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph... no one will be counting your words... probably)
Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know alot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)
Day 3, Friday: Things that make you uncomfortable
Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don't have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member
Day 6, Monday: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?
Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you're most afraid of
Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
Day 10, Friday: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill.
Day 11, Saturday: Sell yourself in 10 words or less
Day 12, Sunday: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life...)
Day 13, Monday: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.
Day 14, Tuesday: Ten things that make you really happy
Day 15, Wednesday: A Day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day - this could be "a photo an hour" if you'd like)
Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it
Day 17, Friday: A favorite photo of yourself and why
Day 18, Saturday: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.
Day 19, Sunday: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them
Day 20, Monday: Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.
Day 21, Tuesday: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives
Day 22, Wednesday: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)
Day 23, Thursday: Things you've learned that school won't teach you
Day 24, Friday: Your top 3 worst traits
Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget (good or bad)
Day 26, Sunday: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you'd like.
Day 27, Monday: A letter to your readers
Day 28, Tuesday: Only pictures
Day 29, Wednesday: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in the post
Day 30, Thursday: React to this term: Letting Go
Day 31, Friday: A vivid memory